An important pathological outcome of schistosomiasis is hepatic fibrosis, with a significant deposit of collagens and proteoglycans. In this study, hepatic and granuloma-associated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively at the acute stage of murine infection with Schistosoma mansoni. The effects of IFN gamma, which has been successfully used for reducing collagen deposition in the liver during schistosomiasis, were also analyzed in granulomas and the surrounding liver parenchyma. Acute schistosomiasis resulted in a 4.4-fold increase in total hepatic GAG content, from which granulomatous GAGs--mainly chondroitin sulfates A/C and B--represented only one sixth of total GAGs amount. Therefore, the increase was found predominantly in the parenchyma. In this compartment, qualitative changes were also induced with a marked increase in the proportion of chondroitin sulfates A/C balanced by a decrease in the proportion of heparan sulfate and dermatan sulfate. IFN gamma reduced parenchymal GAG content by 47%. Qualitatively, the cytokine increased the proportion of heparan sulfate and reduced the quantity of chondroitin sulfates A/C by half in this compartment. By contrast, IFN gamma had neither quantitative nor qualitative effect on fibroinflammatory granulomas. In these structures, the absence of heparan sulfate--which is suspected to mediate IFN gamma activity--might explain these observations.